A Moral Imperative

On November 10, His Holiness Pope Francis addressed a Vatican symposium on nuclear disarmament.

Francis told his audience that nuclear weapons exist “in the service of a mentality of fear that affects not only the parties in conflict but the entire human race.”

Speaking to representatives from Russia, the United States and other countries, Francis made clear that “international relations cannot be held captive to military force, mutual intimidation and the parading of stockpiles of arms.”

He said that “weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, create nothing but a false sense of security. They cannot constitute the basis for peaceful coexistence between members of the human family, which must rather be inspired by an ethics of solidarity.”

One of those attending the conference was Rick Wayman from the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. (That’s Rick in the photo above greeting Francis.)

I received this message from Rick.

“Greetings from Rome!

“The two-day nuclear disarmament conference hosted by the Vatican just wrapped up. It was two very long days of inspiration, learning, networking, and preparing for action.

“Today started with a mass at St. Peter’s Basilica, celebrated by Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, which is the department that organized the conference. This was something truly special for Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Normally St. Peter’s is packed full of tourists, but the organizers closed off a significant portion of the basilica just for us. As if yesterday’s hour with Pope Francis wasn’t enough, this made me realize just how seriously the Holy See takes the issue of nuclear disarmament, and how much respect they have for the work of those who were invited to the conference this weekend.

“Cardinal Turkson’s message at the mass was that peace begins with each of us, then spreads to our communities, our nations, and the world. He encouraged us to consider ourselves the ultimate makers of peace, and I encourage you to do the same.

“There were many memorable speakers at today’s conference, including Masako Wada, a survivor of the U.S. atomic bombing of Nagasaki; Susi Snyder, nuclear disarmament program manager for PAX; and Mairead Maguire, a Nobel Peace Laureate and long-time NAPF Advisor, pictured here with me.

“As I was leaving the conference hall this evening, I had the opportunity to speak with Monsignor Robert McElroy, Bishop of San Diego. We discussed the urgency of bringing the newly-articulated, unequivocal stance of Pope Francis against the possession of nuclear weapons to the many millions of Catholics around the United States and the world. I will be working with him over the coming months to do this, and I hope I can count on your help as well.

“Now that the conference is over, I’m heading out to dinner with some of my colleagues from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) to celebrate our campaign’s recent Nobel Peace Prize!

“Sincerely, Rick”

Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego said, “Pope Francis was clear that because of the significant risks of even an anticipated or accidental war, and of the gargantuan and devastating effects of nuclear war, and of provoking other nations to perhaps use them, the possession itself of these weapons is now condemned, regardless of the intention.”

McElroy added that “the moral imperative” for Catholics and indeed the whole world is a move “progressively and dramatically toward getting rid of nuclear arms.”

Friday: The most powerful argument for nuclear disarmament I have ever heard!

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